Santa Monica Lookout
|Santa Monica Looks to Regulate E-Cigarettes||
When one lives in a city as breathtakingly beautiful and unique as Santa Monica, inevitably that city will be shared with visitors.
By Daniel Larios
June 20, 2014 – The Santa Monica City Council on Tuesday will consider drafting an ordinance to classify the use of electronic cigarettes as “smoking,” an activity that is currently banned in most public and some private spaces.
E-Cigarettes – or “vaping machines” as they are commonly referred to – are battery-powered nicotine vaporizers that operate without smoke, often marketed as an easy way to quit smoking.
The proposed ordinance would prohibit the use of e-cigarettes, or “vaping,” in all locations where cigarette smoking is currently banned, and it would also require businesses that sell the devices to comply with the City’s Tobacco Retailer Licensing law, according to the staff report.
The City of Los Angeles passed a similar ordinance in March, but it exempted “vaping” lounges from the indoor workplace ban on smoking. The cities of Long Beach and Beverly Hills followed suit.
After the three cities passed the ban, the Santa Monica City Council commissioned a study looking at the consequences of “vaping,” which will be presented at Tuesday’s meeting.
“Staff has reviewed news reports on this subject and the underlying scientific studies being cited by both sides in the debate; reviewed the newly enacted laws of other jurisdictions; and analyzed the arguments for and against the regulation of e-cigarettes as they pertain to Santa Monica,” staff wrote.
The City staff’s main source of information is an analysis of scientific studies on e-cigarettes called “E-Cigarettes: A Scientific Review,” said Adam Radinsky, who heads the City Attorney’s Consumer Affairs Unit.
Authored by researchers at the University of California San Francisco and published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, the study is “the first comprehensive assessment of peer-reviewed published research on the subject.”
Taking into account 84 scientific studies, the analysis questions the claim that “vaping” helps smokers quit.
The review also found that the devices themselves might pose a health risk and are being marketed to children using such flavors as cotton candy and gummy bears.
In addition, the report claims that “vaping” in public places gives the impression that smoking is allowed in non-smoking areas and makes it difficult for law enforcement to distinguish e-cigarettes and actual cigarettes.
“An often-cited reason for treating e-cigarettes the same as cigarettes is that they appear visually similar from even a short distance,” the report reads. “Since it is difficult to distinguish the two, if e-cigarettes are allowed in locations where cigarettes are prohibited, then both government and private enforcement will be hampered.”
Taking all these factors into account, City staff has recommended a proposed ordinance modeled after anti-vaping laws in Long Beach and Beverly Hills, which also brought the use of e-cigarettes under the definition of smoking but did not exempt them at indoor lounges.
There are currently two licensed “vaping” establishments in Santa Monica. There are no laws on the books from banning the smoking of e-cigarettes inside bars and restaurants due to the lack of federal rules and classification of the subject, the staff report says.
If the council votes in favor of the recommendation, City staff will return with a draft of the ordinance later this year.
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